|Organisation /||Presidentís Message|
"Beyond discipline, beyond style, beyond affiliation, there is a greater group of people who practice the martial arts. These are the people that are the heartbeat of our movement",
April 22, 2009
Dear Fellow Martial Artists, Supporters and Friends,
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the World Martial Arts Games Movement Founderís Committee for allowing me to serve the World Martial Arts Community at the highest of levels. And to share with you the details of the future of the World Martial Arts Games. But before I begin, I thought I might give you a little background on the scope of what we are pursuing.
The martial arts world is made up of many different disciplines. They include the arts of Judo, Jujutsu, Karate, Kempo, Kickboxing, Kung fu, Sambo, Taekwondo, Taekwon-Do and Wushu. Many of these arts are further broken down into styles. In fact someone told me once that there are more than 300 styles of Karate throughout the world.
Some disciplines focus strictly on the self-defense aspect of the arts. Others focus solely on the fighting side. And some are able to mix the two to provide a more complete martial arts system. A good portion of the schools that teach these arts have students who compete in Tournaments all over the world. Whatever may be the individual goal or objective, we are all connected in a brotherhood of the bigger martial arts picture. Of all the martial arts, only Judo and WTF Taekwondo are part of the Olympic program. In my own country of Canada, if you are a practitioner of Judo or WTF Taekwondo, it is possible for you to become a ďCarded AthleteĒ. As a Carded Athlete you may qualify for funding from Sport Canada under their Athlete Assistance Program (AAP). And this allows many athletes to pursue their passion on a full-time basis. Most developed nations have similar opportunities for their athletes. This opportunity is shared by other Olympic sports.
Unfortunately, Judo and WTF Taekwondo only represent a small part of the martial arts community. In fact, if we were able to complete a survey right now, it would likely be much smaller than most people realize. This means that the majority of the martial arts community cannot get government subsidies, recognition or support. And I can tell you that there are some amazing athletes being trained outside of the Olympic martial arts. I think it would be safe to say that all of the Martial Artists you see on the Big Screen are products of the greater martial arts community. Names like Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal and the most famous martial artist of our lifetime, Bruce Lee.
There is very little statistical data available on Martial arts as a whole. What does exist comes mostly from independent organizations in the United States. There are approximately 296 million people living in the USA. According to one source, approximately 18 million, or about 6% of those people participated in a martial arts class in 2005. These 18 million people took their martial arts class in one of approximately 30,000 martial arts schools. This means that in the USA, there is one martial arts school for every 10,000 people. And the fact that there are more than 30 martial arts schools in my home town of Victoria, Canada, in my mind these figures are somewhat supported outside of the USA.
Now letís apply those statistics globally. Right now, there are approximately 6.6 Billion people in the world. This means that in 2005, about 400 million people may have taken part in a martial arts class. And that there may be over 660 thousand Martial Arts schools worldwide. But unfortunately, because most of these martial arts are not part of the Olympic program, most of those 400 million people cannot access funding for their passion. The Olympics strives to showcase the best athletes in the world. But when it comes to martial arts, the world audience is not necessarily being shown the best of the best.
The World Martial Arts Games Movement supports what the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been able to achieve over the last 100 years. And we recognize the effort that both Judo and WTF Taekwondo have put into their programs to be recognized and accepted by such a great organization. Not so fortunate was the World Karate Federation (WKF), who was successful at having Karate recognized by the IOC, only to be pulled from the 2008 Olympics line-up for other considerations. We have a lot to share, enjoy and be proud of as a unit. It is up to us as a community to grow our athletes and programs so that all martial artists can enjoy the benefits of both the recreational practitioner and the elite.
In August 2005, a few existing National Martial Arts Team directors formed the World Martial Arts Games Movement. Our goal was to build a non-profit, democratic organization that would showcase the world of martial arts through annual competition. And to see that this organization or its events might one day become part of the Olympic Games, or at the very least, operate at the same level. Since that time, many new organizations have been formed and have tried to duplicate our efforts. If we are to succeed as a community, we need to work together toward the same goals. The practioners, the teachers, the affiliations, the tournament promoters & officials, the National bodies and the World federations. Together as one. This is my dream and I would like to invite you to make it part of yours.
By the end of 2007, the World Martial Arts Games Movement had grown to more than 40 nations. Today we are approaching 50. And we are getting the attention and support of many Athletes, Nations, International Martial Arts Organisations, Sponsors and the Media. This could not have been achieved without the commitment of our Founders, our National WMAG Directors and our athletes.
In September 2007, the World Martial Arts Games Committee became an active member of TAFISA, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized Multi-Sport Organisation. Our association with TAFISA has helped us to raise our international profile as well as develop our culture in support of Sport for All. In May 2008, the World Martial Arts Games Committee was established as a non-profit society under the laws of Geneva, Switzerland. And even though our long-term goal is to open doors for martial arts athletes around the world, our mandate continues to be to solidify the global efforts of many into one.
I am very thankful to have the opportunity to share our dream. And to let you know that we will be looking for all the support that we can get from the martial arts community. I am really hoping that many of you will find a need to help us with this very worthwhile cause, and join in the Movement. We are all at the beginning of something wonderful!
Kenneth E. Marchtaler